And you might be another adult who can give these youth a hopeful future.
But giving that hopeful future doesn’t happen simply by opening your door and offering an empty bed. Through a careful process of training parents and nurturing youth, UMFS’ foster care program helps youth heal and grow within a loving, caring family.
UMFS’ foster parents begin their journey by participating in all state-required foster parent training. Plus, UMFS offers unique skills development training and support groups, to make sure foster parents feel well equipped and encouraged.
Why Is Foster Parent Training So Important?
To be the best support possible for the youth in your care, UMFS provides initial and ongoing training. When you participate in this specialized training, you’ll grow in your understanding of your youth’s experience, gain skills to help him or her cope with challenges and learn how to cultivate a home environment conducive to your youth’s growth.
A youth’s journey doesn’t stop when he or she is placed in a loving foster home; the journey toward a successful outcome has only just begun. UMFS’ ongoing foster parent training aims to help parents adjust to the ebbs and flows of this journey.
Foster Parent Training Requirements & Opportunities
To become a foster parent with UMFS, the organization prepares and equips you for the position through an information session, then offers a series of trainings for you while ensuring that you meet several additional prerequisites.
As the Virginia Department of Social Services emphasizes, initial training informs and educate parents, and they also help parents fully assess whether they are ready to care for a youth in the foster program. Ongoing training continues to provide education and skills training, as well as dedicated support.
Below details the types of training that are required and/or available to you as a UMFS foster parent.
Attend an Information Session
This meeting will help you learn more about the youth UMFS serves, and you will gain a deeper understanding of the foster care process.
At the information session, UMFS staff will present important information and answer questions. This is a great opportunity to clarify your responsibilities as a foster parent, learn more general information and find out what makes UMFS unique.
The pre-service training curriculum, ImPACT (I’m Parenting All Children Therapeutically), is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of the foster care system, as well as the needs of the youth in the program. You will engage in skills development and learn about important resources, which will help you prepare your home for a youth in foster care.
Parents must complete 25 hours of pre-service training. Later, when you participate in a home-study, you can discuss lessons learned or lingering questions from your pre-service training. This is another opportunity to gain new insights and learn more.
At training, we will cover topics such as:
- Child welfare system
- Strengths-based thinking
- Grief and loss
- Child and brain development
- Policies and procedures
CPR & First Aid Training
Knowing how to perform basic first aid and CPR is essential for anyone working with kids. Becoming certified in CPR isn’t required by all local social services departments, but UMFS wants its foster parents to be equipped with all the skills necessary to fully care for a youth.
Foster parents have numerous opportunities to complete CPR and first aid training. They can choose from several options to keep their certifications current as their time as a foster parent continues.
Ongoing Training & Support
UMFS requires foster parents to complete 12 hours of ongoing training per year.
Plus, it provides numerous support groups, meetings and one-on-one mentorship opportunities for foster parents to feel plugged into a network, guided along their journey and connected to educational and insightful resources.
Training meetings occur throughout the year. Support groups meet monthly, providing resources and information as well as emotional and mental support.
Foster Parent Training Principles At UMFS
At UMFS, pre-service training and ongoing training are rooted in four main principles:
- Trauma-Informed Care
- The Whole-Brain Child
- Collaborative Problem Solving
- High-Fidelity Wraparound Services
Trauma-informed care is designed to help parents understand how trauma affects the brain and development. This training teaches parents how to build resilience after trauma.
Events such as the Trauma-Informed Care Panel, in which foster care alumni and social work experts speak to parents, providing anecdotal and professional perspectives that help parents understand what their foster kids have endured and how they can best support them.
The Whole-Brain Child
This is based on the book by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson which teaches parents about youth’s brain development. It also teaches parents how to help foster kids move beyond challenging situations. This involves accepting that we aren’t “stuck” in our circumstances and training our brain to move beyond difficult situations.
Collaborative Problem Solving
The principle focuses on teaching adults and youth how to manage conflict.
Training is rooted in the belief that conflict management isn’t about “wanting” to do well; it’s about having the skills to do so.
Collaborative problem solving teaches communication and problem-solving skills that help adults and kids identify problems, respect others’ feelings, manage frustration, and work toward a resolution.
High-Fidelity Wraparound Services
This is a team-based approach to developing an individualized family care plan.
Families work with professionals, but learn how to be their own advocate, identify needs and connect to resources. The goal is to equip foster parents with the skills necessary to be as independent as possible in their foster care journey.
Interested In Foster Parenting?
Foster parenting is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding roles you could have. It’s an opportunity to give kids love where before they felt neglected; to give them compassion where before they felt dismissed; to give them a hug where before they were abused.
As a foster parent, you can provide a true family to a youth who may have never had one.